Prof. Janne Lindqvist's mobile privacy project featured on MIT Technology Review

Dr. Janne Lindqvist's privacy project together with his colleagues Jason Hong and Joy Zhang at Carnegie Mellon University was featured on MIT Technology review. With today's smartphone platforms, users do not understand privacy ramifications of their installed applications, which is also why a recent FTC report has called for understandable privacy disclosures for mobile platforms. The project provides for better privacy disclosures for mobile phone users by using novel crowdsourcing techniques and user interface designs.

The link to the article is:

Dr. Janne Lindqvist is an Assistant Research Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and member of WINLAB,. More info on his activities is available at

Prof. Greg Burdea @ American Museum of Natural History

Professor Greg Burdea has been featured in a new exhibit, "Brain: The Inside Story," at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City. Open now through August 15th, the exhibit seeks to provide visitors "a new perspective and keen insight into their own brains." Professor Burdea's research contributes quite well to such an aim, and it’s no surprise that the Museum would incorporate his work. Not a surprise except to Prof. Burdea, a member of the Rutgers ECE faculty, who had no idea about his involvement with the exhibit. "The first time I knew I was featured was when a colleague told me she had visited the museum with her children and saw my photo on a poster. It was a total surprise."

The Museum incorporated Prof. Burdea's work on the "plasticity" of the brain, to demonstrate how the brain can be rehabilitated and heal after an injury--a stroke, for example--waking up dormant neurons, re-training existing neurons, or re-connecting neural pathways in the brain. The key, says Prof. Burdea, "is that the patient exercises repeatedly, over long periods, and be engaged in the therapy, not being bored, not feeling pushed into the therapy, for the brain plasticity to occur."

Professor Burdea has made significant contributions to the study of the brain's plasticity. In 2003, one such contribution was his work and research he published on Virtual Rehabilitation--a term he coined to represent the advances he and his team made in the lab with patients who received brain therapy while playing virtual reality games. The patients would gladly play and participate, while being mostly unaware that they were, in fact, engaged in a process of brain therapy and rehabilitation.

Currently, Prof. Burdea is directing the Tele-Rehabilitation Institute, which focuses on remote rehabilitation and has in recent years received notice from around the world. In addition, his team’s research pioneers an integrative virtual rehabilitation approach, treating both motor and cognitive/emotive disabilities in a single treatment.
More information on the Tele-Rehabilitation Institute can be found online @

Dr. Pompili's Research Featured on iSGTW Online Publication

Dr. Dario Pompili's research was featured on <a href=""">">iSGTW</a>, an international weekly online publication that covers distributed computing and the research it enables. iSGTW is jointly funded by organizations in America and Europe. In the U.S., it is funded by the DoE's Office of Science and by the NSF via the Open Science Grid.

The article can be found at

Senators Franken and Coons cite WINLAB Researchers

As widely reported in the media last week, Senators Al Franken and Chris Coons urged OnStar to reconsider changes in their privacy policy. The letter to OnStar cited a WINLAB research paper to back up their position. OnStar has since reversed the decision to track and sell customer's location information. The letter referred to the paper "On the Anonymity of Periodic Location Samples" authored by Prof. Marco Gruteser and his student Baik Hoh. It was published in the proceedings of the 2nd Intl. Conference on Security in Pervasive Computing, Boppard, Germany, 2005. The full text of the letter is available in Senator Franken's press release at

The ParkNet Project Featured on Star Ledger Frontpage

A Winlab team of researchers, led by Professor Marco Gruteser (pictured) and Professor Wade Trappe, mounted ultrasonic distance sensors on the passenger side doors of vehicles. Using data collected over two months as the drivers commuted through Highland Park, NJ, the researchers developed an algorithm that translated the ultrasonic distance readings into a count of available parking spaces that was 95 percent accurate. By combining this with GPS data, they also generated maps of which spaces were occupied and which were open that were over 90 percent accurate.

Traffic congestion is a huge problem nationwide, particularly in downtown areas. The problem is so serious that some cities, such as San Francisco, have invested millions of dollars in "smart parking infrastructure".

This work has received extensive coverage from domestic and international media, including the MIT Technology Review and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Online News.  Most recently, it was featured on Star Ledger Frontpage on 6/26/2011. The full article can be found at

Prof. Chris Rose Interviewed on Nationally Broadcasted Radio Program

Professor Chris Rose was recently interviewed on the nationally broadcasted weekly radio program, Are We Alone, for an episode entitled “Space Archeology.” Each episode is distributed around the country on the Public Radio Exchange network, the Public Radio Satellite System, and available globally via the iTunes podcast system. Supported, in part, by a grant from the NASA Astrobiology Institute, Are We Alone aims to explore with insight and humor the “origins, organization, behavior and future of life on Earth.”

Co-host Dr. Seth Shostak spoke with Professor Rose about his thoughts on the idea that the most energy efficient mode of communication with extraterrestrial life might be via a sort of cosmic letter, a material artifact packed full with a high volume of information and data. Professor Rose published a widely discussed paper on the topic in Nature magazine in the 90’s and has been an authority in the media on the subject since. In his discussion with Dr. Shostak, he posited that if speed of delivery is not a sender’s primary concern—that if information doesn’t have to be transmitted at or near the speed of light—then, he said, “it turns out to be really efficient from an energy stand point to write something down” and send it out into space. The transmission efficiency increases with the volume of the message. For a brief, Twitter-style message, a radio signal broadcast might be most efficient—but for any message with a larger amount of data, say a multi-volume textbook or even a long letter, a written artifact could be the most efficient mode of transmission.

As Professor Rose noted, “there’s so many different things you can write a message on.” The variety in artifact types ranges from the most basic to the most advanced technologies and methodologies. There is the rudimentary mode of laser printer paper; the more advanced mode afforded by atomic force microscopes; and then even something as sophisticated as RNA or DNA, both of which can contain a massive amount of information in a very small package, within their sequences of data bits. The artifact, whatever its type, can be propelled into and gravitationally captured by a target solar system.

One of the possible advantages with this kind of interstellar mail is that, unlike a radio signal which can end up undelivered to a recipient if that recipient isn’t equipped with the proper technology at the right time to receive a broadcasted signal, the material piece of mail, in whatever form it may be, could potentially linger about in space, “hanging around,” as Professor Rose said, “there to be found.” In other words, there’s potentially a greater possibility for interested parties to discover material artifacts because those artifacts have a longer communication shelf life, sort of speak, when compared to the more transient broadcasted radio signals.

Professor Rose, however, doesn’t want to discount attempts to pick up broadcasted radio signals all together. Both radio signals and composed matter, in his view, should be given weight as potential modes of communications. As he said, “These are two modalities that should be seriously considered.”

Dr. Chris Rose is a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Rutgers University, and holds a PhD in EECS from M.I.T. He has published widely and been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including most recently the 2010-2011 Rutgers Engineering Governing Council Best Teacher in Engineering.

By Sean Patrick Cooper

Rutgers Launches Master of Business and Science Degree with a Concentration in Electrical and Computer Engineering

For the 2010 Fall semester, Rutgers officially debuted the Masters of Business and Science degree on the Newark, New Brunswick, and Camden campuses. ECE Professor Dr. Deborah Silver serves as the director of the program which currently has ninety-one students enrolled in twenty concentrations across the University.

The degree has been created, in part, because domestic and international businesses require more and more of their employees to possess a fresh understanding of the latest developments in their respective fields, in addition to multidisciplinary entrepreneurial skills that can translate scientific and technical knowledge into profitable products and services. The new degree combines master’s level study in science, mathematics, or engineering with “plus” courses in business, policy and entrepreneurship. Students may select from a wide range of areas to study, including concentrations in communications, engineering, computer engineering, digital signal process, solid-state electronics, and systems and control. One of the more popular concentrations is in electrical and computer engineering.

Those considering the MBS degree should have a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and/or Computer Engineering.
An attractive feature of the program for undergraduate ECE students at Rutgers is the 4 + 1 BS/MBS degree. During their junior year, eligible students may apply to the program and, if admitted, attempt up to 12 graduate credits. Upon graduation, students may apply the 12 graduate credits toward the MBS degree.
When asked why he chose to pursue the BS/MBS degree, undergraduate ECE student Andrew Chad Watson stated, “Having the MBS degree will help me to become a leader among my peers and work on projects that will make a positive contribution to society. The degree will also increase my technical knowledge and put me on the forefront of cutting edge research.”
The Master of Business and Science degree is bridging the gap between the academic and practical aspects of the sciences as well as preparing students for the global economy of the 21st century. Further information is available on

Slow light on a Silicon Chip - What’s the Limit?

The information bandwidth of lightwave is much higher than today’s electronic information technology. Processing information on lightwave thus has a significant advantage. Temporarily slowing down light on silicon chip allows us to complete the information processing in a small chip before light rushes off the chip. However, significant loss of light intensity occurs as light slows down. This fundamentally limits our capability in optical processing information on a small chip. In the December 15 issue of the journal Physical Review B , Assistant Professor Wei Jiang in Rutgers electrical and computer engineering department elucidates the fundamental mechanism and limit behind such light intensity loss. This could help develop next-generation optical information processing technology on a silicon chip.

Slowing down light is an intriguing topic in optics for decades. In the past, the slow light effect is obtained in bulky, low-temperature apparatuses and/or expensive materials. In the last decade, periodic structures, so-called photonic crystal waveguides, emerged to offer slow light on a compact, inexpensive silicon chip. Photonic crystal waveguides can be extended to a relatively long distance to achieve both a relatively long delay time and a wide bandwidth, while most other slow light approaches are limited to either a narrow bandwidth or a short delay. However, the optical loss due to random scattering from small bumps and dents on a silicon chip fundamentally limits the capability of photonic crystal waveguides.

Prior experimental work on optical loss in slow-light photonic crystal waveguides showed large variation. Prior numerical simulations of optical loss were limited to one or a few instance of structures with specific parameters and were unable to account for the variation. Prof. Jiang has developed an analytic theory that reveals the general characteristics of optical loss in a photonic crystal waveguide over a wide range of parameters. The theory indicates that that spatial phase and polarization variation may hold the key to optical loss reduction. Furthermore, Prof. Jiang and graduate student Weiwei Song have developed numeric code that enables efficient, accurate optical loss simulations over a large parameter range. Currently, Song is using this code to search for a low-loss photonic crystal waveguide design.

Once loss is reduced, slow-light photonic crystal waveguides will find a broad range of applications in optical signal processing and optical delay lines for phased array antennas. The research was conducted in the Center for Silicon Nanomembranes, supported by Air Force Office of Scientific Research through the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative.

Mobility First

The National Science Foundation has awarded a three-year, $7.5 million grant to a Rutgers-led research team to develop a future Internet design optimized for mobile networking and communication.
The team of nine universities and several industrial partners has dubbed its project "MobilityFirst", reflecting the Internet's evolution away from traditional wired connections between desktop PCs and servers toward wireless data services on mobile platforms.

The group will design a "clean-slate" network architecture to accommodate the shift of Internet traffic to smart cellular phones, tablet computers and emerging mobile data services, said Dipankar Raychaudhuri, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of Rutgers Wireless Information Network Laboratory.

There are more than four billion mobile devices in use worldwide today, and experts predict that by 2015, these wireless devices will significantly outnumber wired devices on the Internet.

"The mobile Internet will do much more than support today's impressive lineup of smart cellular phones. It will simplify peoples interactions with their physical world", Professor Raychaudhuri said. For instance, he said, it will enable location-aware computing, allowing people to find nearby merchants or get driving or public transit directions, even if they don't know their location. It also will support machine-to-machine communications, such as wearable devices that monitor your health and communicate with hospitals or cars that alert other cars to congestion and send split-second commands to each other to avert collisions.

For more information read the complete article at

Sensors aim to monitor smoker activity

The University's Center for Autonomic Computing developed a wireless sensor project that detects human motion and can further medical research.

The sensors, which are small devices that attach to the body, contain accelerometers and gyroscopes that measure movement and can tell what action a person is doing, said Alex Weiner, a School of Engineering junior who is fine-tuning the algorithm of the sensors.

Dario Pompili, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the project could help behavioral scientist Theodore Walls from the University of Rhode Island with his research into smoking habits.

Pompili said smokers may not give an accurate self-report on their smoking habits, so doctors can rely on the sensors to give a better report, which can ultimately result in better care for the patient.

"There is a lot of bias in self-reporting. Maybe the smoker smokes more because of the stress of the self-reporting, or he reports a lower amount," he said.

A smoker would need two wireless sensors — one on the wrist and the other on the shoulder — for a computer to understand when and for how long they were smoking, Pompili said.

"The accelerometer captures motion on all three axes, and the gyroscope measures angular velocity," he said.

The sensor project is an extension of former graduate student John Paul Varkey's research in monitoring smoker's actions, Weiner said. The sensor can detect the difference between an arm in the resting position and one raised to the mouth while smoking.

The computer is programmed with a supervised learning algorithm, in which the computer begins to recognize inputs it is fed, Weiner said.

"You tell the machine, ‘This is what smoking looks like,' three or four times [and] next time it should recognize it," he said.

Weiner said the sensor has been successful in recognizing different motions and distinguishing actions like smoking from walking.

"I'd say the success rate is 98 percent for recognizing different actions but only moderately successful in recognizing similar motions," he said.

The sensor recognizes actions with a larger difference in movement easier than actions that are similar, Weiner said.

"Something like brushing one's teeth is a somewhat similar motion to smoking, and the computer would have a hard time distinguishing that," he said.

Although the accelerometer and gyroscopes measure the duration one is smoking for, it does not measure the reasons for smoking, Pompili said.

"We need to understand behavior, we need to [know] when and where you smoke, or if you smoke because you are with someone," he said.

The sensors can measure other aspects besides movement, said Hariharasudhan Viswanathan, a School of Engineering graduate student who contributes to the project.

"We have sensors to measure temperature and humidity, and we also have EKG or ECG sensors that can be used to measure heart rates," he said.

In the future, the project will include a smoke sensor, Viswanathan said.

"Right now we only measure how long the person smokes, but with this we can see if he takes a lot of puffs, and see how much intake there is," he said.

Viswanathan hopes to create an e-doctor application, in which doctors could provide remote health care to patients.

"Let's say you need an EKG. You place three sensor nodes on the body and then the results can go to your doctor. It's cheap and efficient," he said.

Weiner said the project could assist athletes, help doctors in third world countries and monitor the elderly.

Pompili also suggested that sensors could be used in the military for measuring soldiers' vital signs on the battlefield.

"It would be a great application for the army," he said. "Through an ad-hoc wireless network, you could have vital information of the soldiers."

Pompili said the soldiers could wear a smart suit with the sensors on the field, which would feed information back to the base and provide information that was previously unavailable.

"You could read the vitals and predict fainting due to stress and many other problems," he said. "Plus it's a non-invasive way to obtain this information."

This article was published by The Daily Targum


Subscribe to Rutgers University, Electrical & Computer Engineering RSS